The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


August 6, 2010

   Fifty years ago in 1960 rain was the big winner at Stafford Springs on Friday night. Ted Stack won the Modified and Non-Ford features on Wednesday night at the Waterford Speedbowl. Newt Palm was the Bomber winner. Don Collins, Dick Beauregard and Ed Moody were the Saturday night winners.

   Forty five years ago in 1965 Bill Wimble made it three in a row in Friday night Modified action on the dirt at Stafford. Newt Palm was the Modified winner at the Waterford Speedbowl. Jerry Glaude was the Late Model Daredevil winner. Elton Hill was the 25 lap Modified feature winner at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, NY on Sunday. Frank Manafort finished second and was followed by Danny Gallulo and Dick Dixon. Robbie Kotary won at Fonda while Utica – Rome fell victim to rain.

   Forty years ago in 1970, it was a very busy week. Tuesday the All Star League visited the Catamount Stadium in Vermont. Richie Evans won the 100 lapper over Bugsy Stevens, Geoff Bodine and Maynard Troyer. The following night the league moved to Stafford Springs where Bugsy Stevens used his home track advantage to take the win over Don Diffendorf, Evans, Bodine and Eddie Flemke. The Albany-Saratoga Speedway ran a 100 lapper on Friday night. Evans who had been under suspension by NASCAR was allowed to run and he wasted little time as he took the win over Bugsy Stevens, Robbie Kotary and Jerry Cook. Fonda held a 200-lap National Championship event on Saturday night. In addition to their regular runners, the event drew asphalt runners who were chasing points for the national title. Harry Peek took the win over Rene Charland and Don Wayman. Modified point leader Fred DeSarro finished sixth behind Ron Narducci. Jerry Cook finished 11th, Bernie Miller, 16th and Dick Fowler, 20th. Glynn Shafer took the Modified win at Waterford. Ron Cote was the Late Model Daredevil winner. Racing at Plattsburg was cancelled because of a power outage and at Stafford; Leo Cleary scored a one-two punch as he won the twin 25's that were run. Billy Harman finished second in the first one with Ernie Gahan, third. Ed Yerrington finished second in the nightcap with Gahan, third. Cleary carried his win streak to Thompson where he won the first feature and finished second to DeSarro in the second one. Utica-Rome rained out.

   Thirty five years ago in 1975, the schedule was light due to rain. At Stafford on Friday night, Geoff Bodine held off Eddie Flemke and Ronnie Bouchard for the win. Bodine also won the Yankee All Star event at Thompson on Wednesday. The only other action was at Shangri-La and Fulton where Richie Evans went two for two. Waterford also fell victim to rain.

   Thirty years ago in 1980, Richie Evans went three for three as he won at Stafford, Riverside and Thompson. At Stafford, Corky Cookman finished second and was followed by Brian Ross and Ronnie Bouchard. At Riverside, Bob Polverari finished second but the real action took place after the races. Evidently the Agawam Police felt that Evans and his crew and friends were celebrating too much and came on the scene to quiet things down. While the cops were talking to Evans, Crew Chief Billy Nicewicz let the air out of one of the cruiser's tires. The cops had no sense of humor and arrested Evans, Nicewicz and anyone else that was in the area including John McMullen and Speedway Scene’s, Val LeSeur. Evans got everyone out and no charges were pressed. The New England Drivers and Owners Club voted to propose a maximum motor rule (358 C.I.) for 1981.It was adopted by NASCAR and is still the rule today. Other weekend winners were Tom Baldwin at New Egypt, Doug Hewitt at Spencer, Jeff Fuller at Westboro, John Blewett Jr. at Islip, Roger Treichler at Lancaster, Don Bunnell at Waterford, Tony Hirshman at Wall, SJ Evonsion at Monadnock and Art Davis at Danbury.

   Twenty five years ago in 1985, Stafford ran a challenge of Champions on Tuesday, promoted by Russ Conway. Guest of honor, Tim Richmond driving an SK Modified owned by Jack Malone took the special event over Ted Christopher and John Anderson. The Modified Tour was at Riverhead on Wednesday and it was Jim Spencer taking the win over Tony Siscone and Dan Jivenelli. Stafford ran a 100 lapper on Friday which saw Charlie Jarzombek beat out George Brunnhoelzl and Corky Cookman. Rick Fuller beat out Ted Christopher and Bob Potter to win a 50 lapper at Waterford. The Mod Tour was at Catamount Stadium on Sunday night and Jim Spencer picked up his second win of the week. John Rosati finished second with Brian Ross and Richie Evans following. Richie Evans stayed close to home as he won at both Spencer and Shangri-La. In Winston Cup action at Michigan, Bill Elliott was the pole sitter and winner.

   Twenty years ago in 1990, rain-washed out everything except Wall Stadium where Gil Hearne got his 99th career win and Thompson where Tony Sylvester won a 100-lap late model event.

   Fifteen years ago in 1995, Waterford ran on Wednesday and Saturday. Mark LaJunesse won on Wednesday over Mike Gada and Todd Ceravolo. On Saturday, David Gada took the win over Jim Broderick and Bert Marvin. Phil Rondeau won late model events on both nights. On Saturday night he blew an engine in his heat, made a change in time for the consi and still took the win. Chris Kopec won a 75 lapper at Riverside and retired veteran Jim Cash suffered a heart attack and died during the running of a legend race at the Park. The Modified Tour was at Riverhead where Mike Ewanitsko led all 201 laps to take the win over Rick Fuller and Satch Worley. Jim Broderick recorded his second win at Stafford, holding off Ted Christopher and Bob Potter. At Watkins Glen, Jerry Marquis was leading the Busch North event in the late stages when he ran out of gas and handed the victory to Joe Bessey. Mark Martin was the Winston Cup winner.

   Ten years ago in 2000, Thompson started the weekend off on Thursday. Taking the SK modified win was John Sneade with Stu McCarthy finishing second. The Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at Watkins Glen on Friday. Pole sitter Ted Christopher led all 32 laps for the victory. Jerry Marquis ended up second after Rick Fuller who had been hit by Tom Cravenho collected Tim Connolly. Charlie Pasteryak finished third with Joey Caraccia, fifth. Among the casualties of the event was Tony Hirschman. Hirschman blew an engine and was fired by car owner Gary Cretty, who had already hired Ted Christopher as his replacement. In Winston Cup action at Watkins Glen, Steve Park led the final 27 laps of the 90-lap contest to record his first Winston Cup win. Mark Martin finished second. Stafford rained out on Friday night and it was Eric Berndt taking the win at Waterford on Saturday night. At Riverhead, local politician Ed Densieski beat out veteran Wayne Anderson for the win.

   In other news, NASCAR racing pioneer Herb Thomas passed away at the age of 77 and Larry McReynolds, Mike Skinner's crew chief at Richard Childress Racing, announced at seasons end he would be leaving his position to become an on-air race analyst on the FOX TV broadcasts in 2001.

   Five years ago in 2005 Racing in New England got an early start as the Stafford Motor Speedway ran Full Fendered Wednesday highlighted by the NASCAR Busch North Series. Second generation driver Ryan Moore gambled with a tire change and walked off a winner. Ted Christopher gambled that his tires would last. He lost and had to settle for third place at the finish. Christopher led from lap 77 to 122 until giving way to Moore. Brian Hoar took over second spot late in the race. A good representative field of 28 cars was on hand. Andy Santerre and Mike Olsen rounded out the top five. Craig Collins took the Late Model win.

   Richard Savory took the Sunoco SK type Modified win at the Thompson Speedway on Thursday night. The second generation racer took advantage of Tom Cravenho’s bad luck to take his second victory of the year. Jeff Malave extended his point lead with a second place finish. Todd Ceravolo was also in the mix until developing suspension problems while running in the lead pack. Kerry Malone ended up third with Bo Gunning and Bert Marvin rounding out the top five. Charles Bailey III scored his fourth Late Model victory of the year. Andy Johnson took top honors in the Pro Stocks with Keith Desantis victorious in the Limited Sportsman. Other winners were Mike Veins in the Thompson Modifieds and Todd Henshaw in the Mini Stocks.

  The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series traveled to the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night. A strong field of 37 Modifieds was on hand. Defending tour champion Tony Hirschman gambled with changing three tires when the rest of the field went with four on lap 113. Hirschman was fourth when he pitted and emerged the leader. Hirschman ran the rest of the event in the lead and went on to record his third tour win of the year. Ted Christopher ended up second and now led Hirschman by 14 points going into Thompson. Jerry Marquis finished third with Mike Stefanik, fifth. High humidity along with extreme temperatures made for a true test of man and machine.

   Donnie Lia won the 40 lap SK Modified feature at Stafford on Friday night. It was his first Stafford win. Lloyd Agor finished second with Willie Hardie Jr, third. Jeff Baral and Chuck Docherty rounded out the the top five. Andy Major won the Pro Four feature. Jeff Zuidema finished second with Dan Meservy, third. Jason Hereux and Cory Cleary rounded out the top five. Cleary is the grandson of one of the all-time greatest drivers, Leo Cleary.

  Frank Mucciacciaro didn’t make any friends at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night when he won his second career SK Modified feature in near 100 degree temperatures. Between the heat and Mucciacciaro’s driving, fellow competitors Tom Fox and Rob Summers were very critical of the winner’s driving tactics. Mucciaccaro started on the pole and led every lap of the 35 lap feature. Summers ended up second with Fox third. Ron Yuhas Jr and Dennis Gada rounded out the top five. Allen Coates won his fifth Late Model feature of the year while Bill Gertsch Jr went pole to pole to win the Sportsman feature that had been carried over from the Bud Nats. John Puglisi won the regularly scheduled event. Ken Cassidy Jr beat out Richard Brooks to win the Mini Stock feature and Jeffrey Paul won the Legends feature.

   It was one year previous that Tiger Tom Baldwin was taken from us after a wreck at Thompson. Always outspoken, Baldwin told it like it was. A charter member of the Long Island gang, Baldwin was a Modified loyalist. He always had the best interests of the division at heart. In his late 50’s, Baldwin knew he was in the twilight of his racing career but still remained competitive. It is only fitting that we remember this fallen racer on the anniversary of his passing.

   James Civali, tossed out of Stafford Speedway’s SK Modifieds, on thin ice with the Whelen Modified Tour, was on thin ice with officials of the Busch North Series. During the recent Busch North Series 150 at Stafford, Civali lost his temper again and drilled veteran Dave Dion. Dion and Civali had been making contact prior to the incident which triggered Busch North Series officials’ action to park Civali for the night. One of Civali’s friends said he is very upset with himself. He knows he made a very big mistake, and only blames himself. He was only 21 years old, and no doubt will make more mistakes in his life. By his choice the No.29 was not at Stafford on Friday night as he was taking time to reflect and think. Civali has a lot of raw talent and had shown flashes of having what it takes to be a top driver.

   At Watkins Glen, Ryan Newman was the Busch Series winner and Tony Stewart won the Nextel Cup event. Sprint and Nextel Communications Inc. announced that they closed their proposed merger on Friday, Aug. 12, 2005. The companies have received all required regulatory approvals for the merger. The proposed merger between Sprint and Nextel was announced on Dec. 15, 2004 with a commitment to create Sprint Nextel -- a leading communications provider that will offer a comprehensive range of innovative wireless and wireline products and services to consumer, business and government customers. After the completion of the merger, Sprint Nextel common stock would begin trading on Monday, Aug. 15, 2005, on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "S."

   Last year, 2009, The legend of car owner, the late Len Boehler and his famous ‘Ole Blu No.3 continued to live on as Ryan Preece scored his second Whelen Modified Tour Series in six days. Preece, who is the grandson of another legend, Bobby Judkins won the Town Fair Tire 150 at Stafford on Friday night.

   Preece took the lead on lap 104 from Ted Christopher and held off the defending champion to record his third overall win. Preece, who started fourth, moved into second spot by lap seven. The top two never pitted and it was a matter of Preece wearing the defending champion down.

   According to reports a near capacity house witnessed the event. There were 32 cars on hand for the available 31 starting spots. In a generous move the Stafford management agreed to allow all cars to start the event.

   Chris Pasteryak, who continues to make a name for himself, finished third, which tied his best career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour effort, previously also set at Stafford . Eric Beers and Rowan Pennink. Erick Rudolph, Donny Lia, Jimmy Blewett, Woody Pitkat and Todd Szegedy rounded out the top 10 finishers. The Coors Light Pole Award winner, Eric Berndt, finished 16th. It was a relatively clean and fast race, which produced only five short caution periods for 25 laps.

   Christopher regained the season points lead with his runner-up effort. He led Szegedy by 14 points after seven events.

   In tour related news it had been announced that James Civali had been hired by Hillbilly Racing to drive a team car to Ronnie Silk. Civali will be in competition at Bristol, Loudon, Martinsville, and the North South Shootout.

   In regular Friday night action at Stafford, Frank Ruocco took down his second consecutive SK Modified feature win, Jim Peterson took his second Late Model feature win of the 2009 season, David Webb was a first time career winner in the SK Light Modified feature, Dan Flannery came up a first time career winner in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Victoria Bergenty was also a first time career winner in the DARE Stock feature.

   In Thursday night Thunder action at the Thompson Speedway Ted Christopher and Todd Ceravolo each scored victories in the twin 50-lap Sunoco (Sk-type) Modified features. George Bessette broke into victory lane for his first of the season in the Super Late Models.Tommy O’Sullivan was the Late Model winner while Scott Sundeen earned his second of the season in the Limited Sportsman division. Brian Sullivan took down his fourth TIS Modified win of the season and Tim Taylor took the Mini Stock win, his sixth of the season.

   Ted Christopher, who was feeling the effects of the flu, won the first 50 lapper for the Modifieds. Todd Ceravolo finished 16th in the opener as he dropped out with an overheating engine. A blown head gasket was suspected. After some discussion the decision was made to install a new radiator plus pour some “stop-leak” into the engine block. It was a gamble but it worked as Ceravolo was able to out-distance Christopher to take the win in the second 50 lapper.

   At the Waterford Speedbowl, Vermont native Brian Hoar scored his second consecutive ACT Late Model Tour win Saturday in the Nutmeg State 100, while it was Keith Rocco winning his fifth SK Modified event of the Speedbowl season. Walt Hovey Jr. won his third Street Stock race of the year, and Bill Leonard captured his second Norwich Bulletin Mini Stock event. Jason Palmer was the winner in the Legends Car race.

   The True Value Modified Series went “up country” to Maine. Jon McKennedy outlasted a very competitive field Saturday night as he capturing the 100 lap True Value Modified Racing Series event at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough, ME. The race, in front of a big crowd, featured five different leaders.

   On lap 88, McKennedy took the lead passing Pinkham. McKennedy then opened up a comfortable margin over Pinkham and cruised to the victory. Jarvis was third followed by Carl Pasteryak, and Jack Bateman rounding out the top five.

   NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series teams traveled to Watkins Glen, NY. Marcos Ambrose won the Zippo 200 for his second Nationwide Series win. Kyle Busch finished second, his 10th race in a row where he finished first or second. There were 6 cautions for 20 laps and 7 lead changes among 7 leaders.

   Tony Stewart won the rain-delayed NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen International on a steamy Monday, muscling an ill-handling car in the early going and then holding off Australian Marcos Ambrose over the final 21 laps for his Cup-record fifth victory at the famed road course.

That’s about it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly, R.I.02891.
Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E-Mail,

Phil Smith has been a columnist for Speedway Scene and various
other publications for over 3 decades.

This week are several vintage racing photos
courtesy of &


     Bill Wimble                                            Danny Galullo                                              Dick Dixon     

       Frank Manafort                                    Joseph 'Moe' Gherzi                                Denny Zimmerman    

All photos courtesy of Tom Ormsby and

Looking Back Archive


SourcePhil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: August 6, 2010

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